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Is broken glass recyclable?

Is broken glass recyclable or can you throw it away? You might think that since glass jars and containers are recyclable, broken glass must be too. If that’s the case, you’re wrong.

Unfortunately, broken glass is generally NOT recyclable – check your municipality’s specific rules and requirements as it may differ – , for a number of reasons. Let’s start by looking at types of glass and discover why they need to be kept out of the blue bin.

Not all glass is the same. For example, window glass, mirrors and light bulbs contain chemicals that make them unsuitable for reuse at your recycling plant. Broken window and mirror glass can still be re-purposed, however, so do a bit of research before you chuck them in the trash. Look for local industrial manufacturers that accept broken glass – some facilities convert it into building materials, fiberglass and asphalt.


Note that depending on the type, lightbulbs may require special treatment. Incandescent and halogen lights usually go into the trash. Compact florescent bulbs contain materials that need to be processed differently, and they are included in your local Household Hazard Waste (HHW) program. They must be taken to a local HHW drop-off facility or saved for a recycling event.

Wine and drinking glasses

Broken wine or drinking glasses present a different problem altogether. Drinking glasses have a different chemical composition and melting point compared to container glass. Mixing the two together can cause abnormalities and fracture points in newly recycled glass, making it hazardous and unreliable. Broken wine and drinking glasses should always be wrapped and thrown in the trash. Of course, if your drinking glasses are unbroken and reusable, re-purpose or donate them.

If you can’t find an industrial depot and you put your garbage out in plastic bags, wrap your non-HHW glass carefully in paper and place it in the garbage.  Make sure it is wrapped securely enough to keep pieces from fall out, and use tape or string to keep the paper in place if necessary. The idea is to prevent handlers or passers-by from getting hurt. If you leave your garbage out in a cart or can, place the loose pieces fully within the bin and make sure they can’t fall out.

Other types of broken glass

And what about that broken container glass? It presents a potential hazard for you and for waste handlers, so dispose of it in the garbage too. As with unconventional glass, wrap the fragments in paper and seal them tight if you use plastic bags.

The bottom line is that recycling companies do not accept broken container glass.  It presents a potential hazard to handlers, and recycling facilities are often not equipped to remove tiny pieces of broken glass from other recyclables. Broken glass also presents a major safety concern for the workers sorting the material.

Note: Other alternatives include contacting your local bottle-bank and inquiring if they accept broken bottles. Or reuse the fragments in a creative craft project.

At the end of the day, make sure to check with your local program to see how they’d like you to handle broken glass. While many do not accept it, there are some exceptions. If you want to know what’s what and your city is currently a part of our network, feel free to download our app.


  1. Lee Adams

    September 7, 2021 at 6:42 am

    What if the glass container gets broken in the recycling truck?

    • April

      September 7, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      Well, unfortunately that can happen. The hope is that it is cushioned by the other softer materials in the truck and stays intact – and mostly it does. I’m sure each recycling facility has a different procedure for dealing with that issue, but we as residents don’t want to add to the dangers for workers by adding glass we already know is broken to the bin.

    • Jen

      January 24, 2022 at 9:58 pm

      I had the same question and some website recommended wrapping the glass in newspaper.

      • April

        January 25, 2022 at 8:07 am

        I don’t know of any facility that accepts broken glass, but you could always check with your specific municipality if they may take it as a drop-off item. It should never be placed in the recycling bin because items are generally left loose in bins. If broken glass were left in a bin, that could cause a hazard to recycling workers. Wrapping it in newspaper will most likely cause it to be sorted incorrectly- possibly contaminating a paper recycling batch, and again, becoming a hazard. You should always wrap broken glass before throwing it in the garbage though so that it does not become dangerous for sanitation workers as they haul the bags into the trucks.

  2. Arvind

    June 19, 2022 at 1:04 am

    It’s there any chances of recycle the broken water glasses. Riskes a part any chances I need to know.

    • April

      July 7, 2022 at 6:23 am

      Drinking glasses are not accepted for recycling whether they are broken or not. The glass is treated in a different way with certain chemicals that end up making them have a different melting point than glass containers, bottles, or jars that are used for packaging. This makes them unsuitable for recycling.

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